Bill would let DACA recipients maintain driver’s licenses after program ends
__________________EAD Expiration Date - 08/07/2018
Legislation proposed by a Bronx assemblyman would allow undocumented immigrants protected under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to keep their driver’s licenses after the program ends in March.
Democratic Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda also is proposing a bill to make DACA recipients eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship free state college tuition program.
“This is not reinventing the wheel,” he said at a Capitol press conference Thursday morning. “People are (DACA) recipients already have the right to have a driver’s license here in New York state. So we’re not changing anything, we’re not augmenting anything. We’re just maintaing the status quo.”
He added that DACA recipients already have taken advantage of the K-12 education system, “and now what we’re saying is we want to now throw you and kick you to the curb and essentially maybe even through you out of this country.”
“That’s not what the United States stands for,” he said.
Neither bill has been printed yet. The driver’s license bill would bar the state Department of Motor Vehicles from canceling, suspending or rescinding driver’s licenses issued to DACA recipients, according to Sepulveda’s office. The Excelsior Scholarship bill would make recipients eligible for that program without needing to apply and qualify for the state Tuition Assistance or Education Opportunities programs, his office said.
The DACA program was created during the Obama administration and gives children brought to the country illegally protections from deportation for two years. Those immigrants must first be vetted.
Recipients have an opportunity to renew those protections. The program makes them eligible for work, driver’s licenses and college. DACA recipients are not eligible for federal college financial aid or New York state tuition aid.
President Donald Trump’s administration announced in the fall that DACA would end in March if Congress didn’t approve a replacement program.
Even though Democratic elected officials have rushed to the aid of immigrants this year amid federal policy changes, both of Sepulveda’s ideas have proven to be controversial in New York in the past.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer sought to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses in 2007 but ultimately dropped the plan as opposition mounted.
The DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented students to obtain state financial aid for college, has repeatedly been passed by the Democratically controlled Assembly but has not gone anywhere in the Republican-led state Senate.
“It’s always a possibility,” Sepulveda said when asked about worries of conflicts with federal law.